Background to the Project
The Affric Kintail Way was the brainchild of former Strathglass Marketing chairman Ian Mure and developed over a number of years in partnership with Forestry & Land Scotland (then Forestry Commission Scotland) and the National Trust for Scotland with support from the Highland Council and other bodies. It was completed and fully signposted in autumn 2014 with an official opening in April 2015. The trail extends some 44 miles from Drumnadrochit at Loch Ness to Morvich in Kintail and mainly utilises tracks and paths that have connected east and west for several centuries and is suitable for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. The Affric Kintail Way is gaining in popularity and is a great asset to the local area and becoming a valuable tourism attraction.
The current route includes a section of the A831 public road that extends for approximately 7.5km between Corrimony in Glenurquhart and the village of Cannich. The road is used by a large volume of traffic including timber lorries, public service vehicles and numerous contractor vehicles. It lacks any pavement or roadside track and trail users are required to take to the tarmac. The many long bends make it difficult for traffic to spot unexpected hazards.
Safety concerns have been raised by both those on the trail and also road users. Strathglass Marketing has been made aware of concerns regarding road safety by email and through social media. Our main objective with this project is to alleviate these road safety concerns by taking pedestrians, cyclists and horses off the road while at the same time opening up the wider path network to the communities along the route.
To remove the A831 road section requires the crossing of privately owned land. A number of possible options were discussed with landowners and a new route agreed. Again use was made of existing tracks where possible in order to keep the new build to a minimum. The reroute is 11.3km in length with 5.8km utilising existing forest tracks and the remaining 5.5km requiring new build (3.4km on Forestry & Land Scotland estate, 2.1km on private land). To reduce impact on the environment over 50% of the new route will be on existing forest tracks and where possible locally sourced natural stone will be used for construction of the required new sections of path and locally sourced sustainable wood will be used for timber structures.
In line with the aims of the National Walking Strategy for Scotland the proposed alternative route will benefit not only those travelling the entire Affric Kintail Way but also give greater access to the countryside for a wider group of people, especially from the local community. It will make off-road links from Cannich to Glenurquhart improving the well-being of local residents by increasing the opportunity for walking, cycling and horse-riding and decreasing the need to take the car (or horse box), also saving on carbon emissions and costs.